Mad Parker has just graduated from eighth grade, where she had nearly perfected the art of becoming invisible, unnoticed, gone-to teachers, to classmates, to her mother, almost to herself. Now she is spending the summer ( a summer of Three Rs: riding, reading, rotting) with her grandmother, the Powerful Chair of the Senate Finance Committee. The Powerful Chair thinks that dancing-Scottish country dancing, to be exact-will help Mad get over her shyness. Torture. That's what Mad thinks. Is she really any point in going to the Chair's weekly dance class?
In the meantime Mad has other things to worry about. Her horse has developed cow-phobia, e-mail indicates she may be losing her best friend, and being in her parents' hometown brings back thoughts of her father-L.G., he's called, for Long Gone, or G.R., for Good Riddance.
But when the Chair gets involved in a highly publicized environmental controversy, politics and, yes, Scottish dance show Mad the way courage grows. And the surprising places new-grown courage can take you.
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Jessie Haashas written four books about Nora and her grandparents: Hurry!, Sugaring; No Foal Yet; and Mowing. She is the author of a popular series of young novels about Lily and her mare, Beware, which includes Beware and Stogie; Be Well, Beware; A Blue for Beware; and Beware the Mare. The author's titles for older readers include Unbroken; Fire! My Parents' Story; Westminster West; and Uncle Daney's Way. Ms. Haas is a graduate of Wellesley College, a political activist, and a lifelong Vermonter. In Her Own Words...
"I grew up on a small Vermont farm. My childhood was full of haying, gardening, horseback riding, and animals. I trained my own horse. I was given a goat for my sixteenth birthday. My mother was the town poundkeeper, so we had an endless stream of stray cats and dogs coming through. Lots of them stayed.
"Along with animals, there was reading. Everywhere. Even in the bathtub. I read all the horse stories ever written, as first choice, and then anything else printed on a page. At Wellesley, influenced by Jane Austen and all those horse stories, I wrote my first novel, Keeping Barney. My teacher, Helen Corsa, suggested I send the book to Susan Hirschman, a former student of hers. Greenwillow rejected Keeping Barney with many useful suggestions. I took them, and the book was accepted a month before I graduated.
"That same month I married Michael Daley, and three years later we built a tiny cabin just uphill from my parents' cow pasture. We had one room at first, with no insulation, no phone, no plumbing, and no electricity-but a very small mortgage. The little house gave us-still gives us-the freedom to pursue our interests without having to get "real jobs." I've worked at a vegetable stand, a village store, and a yarn mill, all part-time, while concentrating mainly on my writing.
"I still live the same kind of life I did growing up. I ride a horse I trained myself. A cat sleeps on my desk as I work. I walk to my parents' farm every day, and I can pick out the exact spot in the pasture where my horse Josey gave me Beware the Mare.
"Writing is a lot like the other things I do. Sometimes it's like planting seeds, and rewriting is a lot like weeding! Then when a story is ripe, it's put in a book to preserve it. Other times, writing feels more like riding, a process of balance, rebalance, and profound concentration. A story can go sour, just like a horse. You have to push it, but not too hard, and keep it moving freely forward.
"I love the challenge of trying to put the truth down on paper. I want to make the words transparent, so that the page becomes an open window. I hope to pass along, through my stories, the joy and strength that others have given to me."
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Book Description Greenwillow Books, 2000. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0060291966
Book Description Book Condition: Brand New. Book Condition: Brand New. Bookseller Inventory # 97800602919691.0